Commemorated on August 1
In the Greek Chasoslov (Orologion) of 1897 is explained thus the derivation of
this feast: "By reason of the sicknesses, often everywhere occurring in
August, from of old customarily it was done at Constantinople to carry out the
Venerable Wood of the Cross along the roads and streets for the sanctifying of
places and for the driving away of sicknesses. On the eve (31 July), carrying
it out from the imperial treasury, they placed it upon the holy table of the
Great Church (in honour of Saint Sophia – the Wisdom of God). From this
feastday up to the Dormition of the Most Holy Mother of God, making litia
throughout all the city, they then placed it forth for all the people to
venerate. This also is the Issuing-forth of the Venerable Cross".
In the Russian Church
this feast is combined also with a remembrance of the Baptism of Rus', on 1
August 988. In the "Account about the making of services in the holy
catholic and apostolic great church of the Uspenie-Dormition", compiled in
1627 by order of the Patriarch of Moscow and All Rus' Philaret, there is
provided suchlike an explanation of the feast: "And on the day of the
procession of the Venerable Cross there occurs a church-procession for the
sanctification of water and for the enlightenment of the people, throughout all
the towns and places".
Knowledge of the day
of the actual Baptism of Rus' was preserved in the Chronicles of the XVI
Century: "The Baptism of Great-prince Vladimir of Kiev and all Rus' was on
In the practice now
of the Russian Church, the service of the Lesser Sanctification of Water on 1
August is done either before or after Liturgy. Together with the Blessing of
Waters, there is made a Blessing of Honey (i.e. first-honey for the Saviour: "Saviour
of the Water", "Saviour Moisture" [apparently in place of the
vinegar and gall offered Him on the Cross?]). And from this day the newly
harvested honey is blessed and tasted.
© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.